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Will Langer take up an offer as India Head Coach?

May 18, 2024 11:51 IST

'The timing has got to be right. I did four or so years with the Australian cricket team. It is all encompassing. It is exhausting.'

Justin Langer

IMAGE: Justin Langer, Head Coach of Lucknow Super Giants, addresses the media after the IPL match against Mumbai Indians, at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, on Friday. Photograph: BCCI

Being India head coach is one of the biggest assignments in the cricket world, and former Australia head coach Justin Langer believes it could be very exhausting if the timing isn't right for the incumbent.

Langer, who coached Lucknow Super Giants this IPL season was asked multiple times about his aspirations to become India head coach, a post set to be vacated by Rahul Dravid after the T20 World Cup in the Americas.

“It would almost be the biggest job in cricket — being the head coach of the Indian cricket team,” Langer replied, when asked if the Indian board had approached him for taking on the mantle.

“One, because of the huge volume of cricket, the huge expectation. It would be a great challenge. It would be great fun and it would be a wonderful opportunity to win ICC titles,” Langer told the media at the Wankhede Stadium after Lucknow Super Giants beat Mumbai Indians by 18 runs in their last IPL match of the season.

Langer cited immense pressure and workload that comes along being an India coach, while adding that it has not been too long since he held a similar role with Australia.

“But with all these things, the timing has got to be right. I did four or so years with the Australian cricket team. It is all encompassing. It is exhausting,” said the 53-year-old.

“Rahul Dravid will probably tell you the same thing and Ravi Shastri will probably tell you the same thing. The pressure on winning for the Indian team is massive,” he said.

He did drop a hint that he might not be mentally ready to commit 10 months a year for the job.

“I'm sure the next person who gets the job will be really looking forward to the project,” Langer added.

IPL is as big as a World Cup

Langer likened pressure in IPL with that of a World Cup competition, adding that it is the best domestic competition in the world.

“I would say categorically — it is the best domestic competition in the world. I can't get over how tough the competition is. There's so many good players. There's so many good teams. There's so much pressure on performance,” he said.

“I guess the biggest thing is, it is just really tough cricket. It is like a World Cup. It is honestly like the same sort of pressure as a World Cup, and I've been to a few World Cups now.

“That's a great credit to the IPL that we're able to keep producing such fun, entertaining, evolving cricket in front of a capacity crowd with noise every game. And there's a game on every night.

“I'm sad to go home. I'm going home on the weekend. I'm actually really sad to go home. I've loved it that much,” he added.

Langer admitted World Cup selection for LSG players in their respective  national sides could have been a distraction.

“I've had this sense that since the World Cup selection — and there is always distractions every IPL — but things seem to change a little bit,” he said.

“I'm not exactly sure what happened, but we had a couple of poor games and it is cost us. We played some really good cricket. We started off well. I was warned about May; everyone's up and about in April, but how you go through May is very important in the IPL.

“(It is) something that we did fall away, we'll sort of analyse it as well as we can, but it is been disappointing because we had a very good team. We missed a few injuries to our bowlers, which made a difference,” said Langer while adding that dropped catches ‘killed' his side this season.

Standing by KL Rahul, the batter

Langer, however, backed K L Rahul despite consistent criticism over his batting strike rate.

“I've heard the criticism, but you know, everyone does it differently. We can't all have, often if you play at a strike rate of 160 or 70 — it is very high-risk cricket.

“The game is evolving and he will evolve and players will have to keep evolving. We've seen that with the opening partnerships in the powerplays this year. I mean, the strike rates have been extraordinary, right?”

“He, like the great players, will keep evolving. All the best players and best coaches keep getting better. He'll keep doing that,” Langer added.

Langer said only Rahul could tell if he was disappointed on being excluded from India squad for the World Cup.

“You'd have to ask KL that, but if you look at his numbers throughout the series, it is a pretty good series. Actually, it is a very good series. We're one game off being in the playoffs next week,” he added.

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